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resources on the Japanese American incarceration & for supporting AAPI communities

last updated: February 19, 2023


Welcome, friends. This blogpost is an ongoing compilation of resources to learn more about Executive Order 9066, and the displacement and incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese descent in the Unites States of America in 1942. My plan is for this blogpost to become a living document that I'll add to whenever I discover new resources, so please feel free to bookmark it for future reference. I've also included some resources for supporting, celebrating, and amplifying Asian voices through the media sources we consume.



EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066 & JAPANESE AMERICAN INCARCERATION


2023 EVENTS

  • Japanese American Citizens League Events // Local events in Bay Area, Northern California, Southern California, Central California, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest, Intermountain, Midwest, and East Coast.

  • Densho's The Past is Not Past: Japanese American WWII Incarceration and the Yonsei Generation // “In what ways do you feel the incarceration has impacted your own life?” That’s the question posed in Dr. Donna Nagata’s recent survey of nearly 500 Yonsei descendants of WWII incarceration. Their responses show that the past is anything but over, and that the incarceration continues to impact Yonsei identity, career choices, and much more. In the first major public event for the Yonsei Project, Dr. Nagata will share her preliminary findings and interpretations. She will be joined in conversation by Dr. Satsuki Ina, Brandon Shimoda, and Daryn Wakasa.

  • Los Angeles Day of Remembrance Event // The annual Los Angeles Day of Remembrance commemorates the signing of Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Executive Order 9066 authorized the US military to remove persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast and set into motion their incarceration into concentration camps during World War II. This year’s theme, Uniting Our Voices: Making Democracy Work for All, illustrates how individuals and communities are powerful when they come together in support of one another and how democracy is only as strong as those who fight for it.


BOOKS

American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War

by Duncan Ryuken Williams

This groundbreaking history tells the little-known story of how, in one of our country’s darkest hours, Japanese Americans fought to defend their faith and preserve religious freedom. In the face of discrimination, dislocation, dispossession, and confinement, Japanese Americans turned to their faith to sustain them, whether they were behind barbed wire in camps or serving in one of the most decorated combat units in the European theater. Using newly translated sources and extensive interviews with survivors of the camps and veterans of the war, American Sutra reveals how the Japanese American community broadened our country’s conception of religious freedom and forged a new American Buddhism. The mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II is not only a tale of injustice; it is a moving story of faith. Even as they were stripped of their homes and imprisoned in camps, Japanese American Buddhists launched one of the most inspiring defenses of religious freedom in our nation’s history, insisting that they could be both Buddhist and American. Nearly all Americans of Japanese descent were subject to bigotry and accusations of disloyalty, but Buddhists aroused particular suspicion. Government officials believed that Buddhism was incompatible with American values. Intelligence agencies targeted the Buddhist community for surveillance, and Buddhist priests were deemed a threat to national security. On December 7, 1941, as the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, Attorney General Francis Biddle issued a warrant to “take into custody all Japanese” classified as potential national security threats. The first person detained was Bishop Gikyō Kuchiba, leader of the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist sect in Hawai‘i. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.


A Place to Belong

by Cynthia Kadohata, illustrated by Julia Kuo

In Kadohata's novel, a Japanese American family, reeling from their ill treatment in the Japanese imprisonment camps, gives up their American citizenship to move back to Hiroshima, unaware of the devastation wreaked by the atomic bomb in this piercing and all too relevant look at the aftermath of World War II by Newbery Medalist, Cynthia Kadohata. Purchase on Bookshop,org.






Two Nails, One Love by Alden M. Hayashi

Hayashi's novel opens in New York City with the narrator-Ethan Taniguchi, a Japanese-American gay man in his early forties-awaiting the arrival of his mother from Hawaii. The two have been estranged for more than a decade, and the reunion is fraught with past grievances bubbling to the surface. After a fateful ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, Ethan's mother reluctantly reveals details of her shattered childhood-her family's imprisonment in a concentration camp in Arkansas in World War II, followed by a deportation to Japan, where she witnesses the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Ethan's past is also revealed-painful memories of a forsaken career in music and a delayed coming out at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Eventually, both mother and son come to understand the complex and subtle ways that their lives are intertwined, with the past reverberating powerfully through the present. Purchase from Eastwind Books of Bookstore.


When Can We Go Back to America? | by Susan H. Kamei

In this dramatic and page-turning narrative history of Japanese Americans before, during, and after their World War II incarceration, Susan H. Kamei weaves the voices of over 130 individuals who lived through this tragic episode, most of them as young adults. In what Secretary Norman Y. Mineta describes as a “landmark book,” he and others who lived through this harrowing experience tell the story of their incarceration and the long-term impact of this dark period in American history. For the first time, why and how these tragic events took place are interwoven with more than 130 individual voices of those who were unconstitutionally incarcerated, many of them children and young adults. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.




GRAPHIC NOVELS

Citizen 13660

Written and illustrated by Miné Okubo, introduction by Christine Hong

Miné Okubo was one of over one hundred thousand people of Japanese descent -nearly two-thirds of whom were American citizens- who were forced into "protective custody" shortly after Pearl Harbor. Citizen 13660, Okubo's graphic memoir of life in relocation centers in California and Utah, illuminates this experience with poignant illustrations and witty, candid text. Now available with a new introduction by Christine Hong and in a wide-format, paperback artist edition, this graphic novel can reach a new generation of readers and scholars. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.



Displacement

by Kiku Hughes

A teenager is pulled back in time to witness her grandmother's experiences in World War II-era Japanese internment camps in Displacement, a historical graphic novel from artist and writer, Kiku Hughes. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.







They Called Us Enemy

by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker

Takei's firsthand account of the years he spent behind barbed wire at the Rohwer internment camp, the terrors and small joys of childhood in the shadow of legalized racism, his mother's hard choices, his father's tested faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.





We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration

by Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura, illustrated by Ross Ishikawa

In this groundbreaking graphic novel the story of America’s concentration camps is presented as you've never seen it before. While they complied when evicted from their homes in 1942, many refused to submit to imprisonment without a fight. Based upon painstaking research, We Hereby Refuse presents an original vision of America's past with disturbing links to the American present. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.






ART BOOKS

Cover of The Art of Gaman by Delphine Hirasuna

In 1942, Executive Order 9066 mandated the incarceration of 110,000 Japanese Americans, including men, women, children, the elderly, and the infirm, for the duration of the war. Allowed only what they could carry, they were given just a few days to settle their affairs and report to assembly centers. Businesses were lost, personal property was stolen or vandalized, and lives were shattered. The Japanese word gaman means "enduring what seems unbearable with dignity and grace. "Imprisoned in remote camps surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by soldiers with machine guns, the internees sought courage and solace in art. Using found materials at first and later what they could order by catalog, they whittled and carved, painted and etched, stitched and crocheted. What they created is a celebration of the nobility of the human spirit under adversity. The Art of Gaman presents more than 150 examples of art created by internees, along with a history of the camps. Buying options for The Art of Gaman.


Balancing Cultures

by Jerry Takigawa

The work of a multi award-winning photography series about the artist’s family’s experience with the WWII American concentration camps. This project presented an opportunity to confront the racism perpetrated on the Japanese that resulted in their confinement in the American concentration camps sanctioned by President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 issued on February 19, 1942. Awakened by a discovery of old family photographs, taken in the Jerome, Arkansas camp, Takigawa was compelled to speak out in deference to his parents’ silence on the matter. Creating a visual journey through transitory collaged photographs using artifacts, documents, and memories resulted in a unique telling of one family’s journey from immigration to incarceration, re-integration, and re-assimilation. Balancing Cultures personifies a dark collective memory—long censored by the fear that if their voices were too loud, “it” might happen again. This work is important today because “it” is happening again. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.


Moving Walls: The Barracks Of America’s Concentration Camps

by Sharon Yamato, photography by Stan Honda

This is an updated edition of the 1994 book chronicling the moving of two Heart Mountain barracks to the Japanese American National Museum. An all-new section details what happened to the barracks after the camp was closed, featuring interviews with homesteaders who acquired the once-temporary buildings for a dollar each, and still live in and use them today. Over 30 new photographs by Stan Honda feature present-day views of the former camp. The book delves into the intersection of the mass detention and the local Wyoming population at a time when race and ethnicity continue to raise questions about issues surrounding immigration and civil rights. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.


All That Remains: The Legacy of the World War II Japanese American Internment Camps by Delphine Hirasuna

The second edition of the Obsessions book series is on the arts and crafts made by Japanese Americans held in U.S. concentration camps during World War II. All That Remains is a sequel to Delphine Hirasuna's 2005 book titled The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942–1946. While working on that book, she spent many hours reflecting on why people banished by their own country to barrack encampments fenced in by barbed wire and guarded by soldiers with rifles pointed at them would take up art with such a fervor that it became an obsession to them. This small tome selects some of the vast body of work that was produced by the incarcerated Japanese and Japanese Americans. There is a particularly moving object, a handmade toy train, that is depicted in a centerfold in the book. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.


CHILDREN'S BOOKS

The Cat Who Chose to Dream

by Loriene Honda, illustrated by Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani

The story of a cat's choice to be incarcerated at a World War II prison camp as a gesture of loving support to the Japanese American family to whom he belongs. We witness through the cat's eyes the devastating condition of the camp, as well as the sense of injustice he feels seeing his family go through this demoralizing experience. Young readers also share in the cat's triumph over feelings of hopelessness and anger, as they witness the cat's use of breathing and visualization exercises that help transport his creative mind to a place in his heart where he no longer feels encumbered and restrained, but self-empowered and free. Through the beautiful artwork of Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani, and the inclusion of therapeutic relaxation and visualization techniques, child psychologist Loriene Honda demonstrates how the imaginative mind can prove to be one's most powerful tool in surpassing adversity. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.


Desert Diary: Japanese American Kids Behind Barbed Wire

by Loriene Honda, illustrated by Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani

The story of a cat's choice to be incarcerated at a World War II prison camp as a gesture of loving support to the Japanese American family to whom he belongs. We witness through the cat's eyes the devastating condition of the camp, as well as the sense of injustice he feels seeing his family go through this demoralizing experience. Young readers also share in the cat's triumph over feelings of hopelessness and anger, as they witness the cat's use of breathing and visualization exercises that help transport his creative mind to a place in his heart where he no longer feels encumbered and restrained, but self-empowered and free. Through the beautiful artwork of Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani, and the inclusion of therapeutic relaxation and visualization techniques, child psychologist Loriene Honda demonstrates how the imaginative mind can prove to be one's most powerful tool in surpassing adversity. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.https://janmstore.com/products/desert-diary?_pos=4&_sid=ed186a73a&_ss=r


See also:

Asian Lit for Kids | Children's books featuring characters of Asian and POC identities for all bookshelves. IG: @asianlitforkids


ART


The Japanese Arts Network (JA-NE) is a national resource for artistic collaboration and connection. They provide access to resources and develop programs and platforms that support and strengthen visibility for JaJA (Japanese and Japanese-American) Artists in America who create with ‘cultural intention’ and are vital to society. We are dedicated to bringing together artists, communities, and stakeholders by celebrating and advancing Japanese arts experiences in America. IG: @japaneseartsnetwork | YouTube: japaneseartsnetwork | Patreon: @japaneseartsnetwork


Lauren Iida | Paper cut-away artist Her main medium is intricately hand-cut paper, often incorporating layers of ink washed paper and focusing on negative space and shadow play. Her solo show, Citizen’s Indefinite Leave, is a series of intricate paper cutaways incorporating historical scenes from the unjust incarceration of 126,000 people of Japanese ancestry in the USA during World War II. With the assistance from Seattle-based organization, Densho, Iida was able to dive deeper into her own family’s history and create a narrative exhibition that explores questions of citizenship, belonging and home. IG: @laureniidastudio | FB: